Conservatives at UNC-Chapel Hill claim discrimination - WNCN: News, Weather

Conservatives at UNC-Chapel Hill claim discrimination

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UNC Chapel Hill College Republicans Chairman Peter McClelland UNC Chapel Hill College Republicans Chairman Peter McClelland

Members of a conservative student group at UNC-Chapel Hill say they're being targeted for their political beliefs. The controversy even caught the attention of Fox News.

UNC College Republicans Chair Peter McClelland says the university's Student Congress is trying to silence conservative voices.

"Students of this campus want to hear both sides," McClelland said. "I have never seen a liberal or progressive group get questions about the validity of their speakers, the validity of their club itself, the same way that conservative and right-leaning groups have."

College Republicans requested funding to host two conservative speakers on campus, environmental activist Ann McElhinney and commentator Katie Pavlich. They requested $8,180 of the Congress' finance committee, but only received $3,090, enough to only fund Pavlich.

"The median cut of the night was about 4.9 percent. Ours was slashed down over half," McClelland said.

But the finance committee's vice chair points out Republicans were not alone in receiving a funding cut.

"This is really not a controversy," finance committee Vice Chair Austin Root said. "Every group gets a funding cut."

McClelland even took his complaints to Fox News recently. Root says that national attention hurts the university's reputation and reinforces stereotypes.

"There is a perception that colleges are liberal bastions and that conservative values are not respected on campuses," Root said.

A spokesman for UNC-Chapel Hill said the university has nothing to do with those funding requests, but they did offer a defense of the Student Congress, saying the organization generally disperses that money equitably. For comparison, a UNC spokesman said an anarchist group on campus, that requested funding of more $15,000, only received about $4,000.

The $39 fee that funds student groups has not been raised in nearly ten years, the university said. With more groups on campus, Root says his committee has to be more selective.

"There are other speakers that are worth $5,000 that have a bigger name recognition [than McElhinney]," Root said.

McClelland says he'll seek outside donors to help fund raise.

"We really wanted to bring these speakers to campus to promote the intellectual diversity," McClelland said, "and the diversity of opinions that is necessary for a liberal arts education."

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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